Media figures have often presented a skewed view of what constitutes "middle class" that includes people making many times the average American income.
This tendency leads those journalists to distort of policy disputes about income and taxation, misleading their audiences in ways that tend to favor the extremely wealthy. By failing to accurately distinguish between high and middle income earners, reporting can overemphasize the impact of fiscal policies targeted at high earners and give the impression that, say, tax increases on wealthy taxpayers actually affect middle class families.
While mainstream journalists at times fall into this rhetorical trap, right-wing media who oppose tax increases on the wealthy use this twisting of income groups to bolster their ideological argument. Time and again, six-figure incomes have been described by conservative media as "not rich." In some instances, those who earn five times the median household income are described as "middle income."
This skewing of income groups was on display when Bradley Blakeman, a former Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush and a Fox News regular, identified himself as "middle class" during a discussion about President Obama's domestic policies on the August 23 edition of America's Newsroom.
We don't know how much Blakeman currently makes, but he previously served as the president of Freedom's Watch, a conservative nonprofit that was required to report the incomes of its top executives. According to publicly available documents Freedom's Watch filed with the IRS, Blakeman earned $339,826 in 2007 and $291,757 in 2008.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Blakeman is currently President and CEO of Kent Strategies, LLC, his public relations firm that advises corporate clients and foreign governments; a principal at The 1600 Group, the bipartisan consulting firm he started with former Clinton White House aide David Goodfriend; a professor at Georgetown University; and a contributor to Newsmax, the conservative news site.
It seems unlikely, based on his current position and his past earnings, that Blakeman is anywhere near the "middle class" as he claimed, but is instead just the latest media figure with to provide an inaccurate view of what that term encompasses.